Dextroamphetamine is a stimulant drug known to increase wakefulness and focus, decrease fatigue and eliminate the desire to eat.
Generic names for the drug include:
All the following brand-names contain dextroamphetamine:
Because dextroamphetamine can so be very effective (and addicting) it became widely popular in the middle of the last century. The psychiatric drug became famous as “uppers” and diet pills as drug-makers advertised the addictive chemical as a wonder-drug while disregarding its dangerous side-effects.
As use of the addictive chemical spread, so did its abuse, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in a 2005 report. Referring to dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, and all the amphetamines, the DEA states:
In the 1960s, amphetamines became a perceived remedy for helping truckers to complete their long routes without falling asleep, for weight control, for helping athletes to perform better and train longer, and for treating mild depression. ... With experience, it became evident that the dangers of abuse of these drugs outweighed most of their therapeutic uses.
Increased control measures were initiated in 1965 with amendments to the federal food and drug laws... Many pharmaceutical amphetamine products were removed from the market including all injectable formulations, and doctors prescribed those that remained less freely. Recent increases in medical use of these drugs can be attributed to their use in the treatment of ADHD.
When we are stressed or under threat, the central nervous system prepares us for physical action by creating particular physiological changes. Amphetamines prompt the brain to initiate this 'fight or flight' response. These changes include:
In small doses amphetamines can banish tiredness and make the user feel alert and refreshed. However, this drug-induced burst of energy and focus comes at a price: a “speed crash” always follows the high and may leave the person feeling nauseous, irritable, depressed and extremely exhausted.
Abuse of dextroamphetamine drugs has many serious potential side effects, including psychotic behavior, depression, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, aggression, violent behavior, confusion, insomnia, auditory hallucinations, mood disturbances and delusions.
Violent and erratic behavior is frequently seen among chronic abusers of amphetamines, especially methamphetamine.
According to the DEA the effects of amphetamines are similar to cocaine but the onset is slower and the duration is longer. Chronic abuse produces a psychosis that resembles schizophrenia and is characterized by paranoia, picking at the skin, preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, and auditory and visual hallucinations. These psychotic symptoms can persist for months and even years after use of these drugs has ceased, and may be related to their neurotoxic effects.
|BRAND NAME||GENERIC NAME|
|Adderall||amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine
|Adderall XR||amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine
|Biphetamine||amphetamine plus dextroamphetamine|
[immediate release, bubblegum flavor]
with lysine (lisdexamfetamine)
Many think methylphenidate (Ritalin) is safe, or mild, because so many children use it. However, the government classifies the psychoactive drug with cocaine and morphine because it is highly addictive. [More]
Stimulant drugs may have subtle impacts on cognitive and intellectual processes. Both parents and researchers have noticed that children taking Ritalin sometimes answer questions in ways that seem overly compliant or narrow, suggesting the drug might restrict creative thinking. One study found hyperactive children taking Ritalin offered less varied answers to open-ended questions.
The psycho-stimulants help students bear down on their work, but with odd effects. One college student says he spends “too much time researching a paper rather than actually writing it.” Another student looked back at papers he'd written while on Adderall and found them verbose: “I'd produce two pages on something that could be said in a couple of sentences.”
All these questions need proper scientific answers, but for now much of the discussion is taking place furtively, among an increasing number of Americans who are performing daily experiments on their own brains (or their children's brains).
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